Tuesday afternoon in Malibu there was a showdown for the top spot in this week’s SoCal Power Rankings. USC and Pepperdine faced off in a midweek game that was the ultimate determinant in who would be No. 1 this week, but the loser wasn’t guaranteed to be No. 2. Find out where each ended up this week and see where Fullerton and UCLA ended up after bouncing back from series losses on opening weekend.
This week’s Thursday games were included.
1. Pepperdine (7-2, LW: 2) – The Waves took away the top spot with a 7-2 win Tuesday spurred by Joe Sever’s third inning grand slam. Pepperdine also took a weekend series win over a solid Fresno State squad. The Waves have continued to get strong starting pitching (2.59 ERA). Corey Miller was named the West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Along with Sever have been seniors Matt Forgatch (.571 OBP) and Tony Cooper (.471 AVG) leading the way offensively.
2. UCLA (5-3, LW: 5) – With UCLA, so far, it’s pretty simple: In their three losses, the Bruins have scored five runs. In their six wins, they’re averaging more than eight runs per game. After dropping the series opener on Friday, UCLA bounced back to take two of three from Baylor, who came in on a hot streak. It then dominated Long Beach State 9-1 Tuesday. The Bruins have a lot of talent with seven starters batting above .300 led by Pac-12 Player of the Week, Jeff Gelalich, and his .419 average. They just have to be consistent.
3. Cal State Fullerton (5-3, LW: 4) - Like UCLA, Fullerton lost its season opening series and then Friday night’s opening game of weekend No. 2. Instead of rolling over, the Titans and the Bruins fought back for big series wins. The difference between the two is slim, but I’m giving the nod to UCLA because of its midweek win over Long Beach State. The Titans offense has also struggled outside of Michael Lorenzen and Carlos Lopez.
4. USC (7-1, LW: 1) - I told one of the USC staff members last week that I would keep the Trojans in the top spot until they lost. But after Tuesday’s loss, they slip down the rankings. I don’t blame USC for its schedule since Akron was a last-minute fill-in when the Dodgertown Classic had to be moved and Miami, who along with Baylor were going to be the Dodgertown Classic participants, couldn’t reschedule. But I also felt it necessary to boost Fullerton and UCLA for their schedules. The Trojans could climb right back up with a strong showing this weekend at North Carolina. They’ll need Andrew Triggs (2-0, 1.93 ERA) and Ben Mount (1-0, 2.08 ERA) to pitch like true front-of-the-rotation guys.
5. San Diego (6-3, LW: 10) - The Toreros are our biggest mover this week after they reeled off five straight wins prior to Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Cal State Northridge. The middle of their lineup is raking right now. The 3-4-5 combination of Kris Bryant, Corey LeVier and Bryan Haar combined for 30 hits during the five wins.
6. Cal State Northridge (6-3, LW: 9) - Outside of a midweek drubbing at the hands of Washington, the Matadors played really well this week. They swept Northwestern and took down a hot San Diego team last night. In his first start this season, Steven Keller hit a pair of home runs against the Toreros.
7. Long Beach State (4-4, LW: 8) – The Dirtbags were able to take the weekend series against Cal, but they are an enigma so far. One game they look great. The next they look terrible. That’s how they’ve managed a perfect .500 record, alternating wins and losses the last six games. Long Beach is in dire need for more offensive production. The offense only has two batters hitting above .300 while they also have a pair of starters hitting below .150. The pitching staff has managed a 2.62 ERA, but have also allowed 12 unearned runs.
8. UC Irvine (4-3, LW: 3) – UC Irvine has been similar to Long Beach. The Anteaters have great pitching (2.57 team ERA), but haven’t been getting consistent offensive production (.254 batting average). Jordan Fox continued his strong start (.458 average, .576 OBP) with five hits last weekend against Washington.
9. San Diego State (4-6, LW: 11) – The Aztecs were able to get a win over Oregon State and came-from-behind for a walk-off win against Cal Poly. When it gets solid pitching, San Diego State is a tough team. The problem has been getting that solid pitching. The Aztecs have given up seven or more runs six times this season, leading to a 5.83 team ERA.
10. UC Riverside (3-5, LW: 7) - Devyn Bolasky’s seven-game hitting streak to begin his collegiate career ended Tuesday night as did the Highlanders’ potential push upward in the SoCal Power Rankings.
Riverside was able to take a game from Arizona State last weekend, so a 2-2 week would have likely moved them up from last week, but the bullpen couldn’t hold a two-run lead in the final two innings against San Diego. Someone besides Bolasky has to step up on offense (.245 team average).
11. Loyola Marymount (2-6, LW: 6) - The Lions dropped five straight this week, losing by an average of 5.4 runs per game. The Lions are struggling all over with a .207 batting average and a 5.58 ERA and gave away Wednesday’s game at Fullerton defensively. Coach Jason Gill was at least encouraged by his team’s hitting in that game.